shake

1 of 2

verb

shook ˈshu̇k How to pronounce shake (audio) ; shaken ˈshā-kən How to pronounce shake (audio) ; shaking

intransitive verb

1
: to move irregularly to and fro
2
: to vibrate especially as the result of a blow or shock
3
: to tremble as a result of physical or emotional disturbance
shook with fear
4
: to experience a state of instability : totter
5
: to briskly move something to and fro or up and down especially in order to mix
6
: to clasp hands
7

transitive verb

1
: to brandish, wave, or flourish often in a threatening manner
protesters shaking their fists
2
: to cause to move to and fro, up and down, or from side to side especially in a repetitive, rhythmic, or quick jerky manner
shook his head in disapproval
3
: to cause to quake, quiver, or tremble
4
a
: to free oneself from
shake a habit
shake off a cold
b
: to get away from : get rid of
can you shake your friend? I want to talk to you aloneElmer Davis
5
: to lessen the stability of : weaken
shake one's faith
6
: to bring to a specified condition by or as if by repeated quick jerky movements
shook himself loose from the man's grasp
7
: to dislodge or eject by quick jerky movements of the support or container
shook the dust from the cloth
8
: to clasp (hands) in greeting or farewell or as a sign of goodwill or agreement
9
: to stir the feelings of : upset, agitate
shook her up
10
shakable adjective
or shakeable

shake

2 of 2

noun

1
: an act of shaking: such as
a
: an act of shaking hands
b
: an act of shaking oneself
2
a
: a blow or shock that upsets the equilibrium or disturbs the balance of something
3
shakes plural
a
: a condition of trembling or nervousness
specifically : delirium tremens
4
: something produced by shaking: such as
a
: a fissure separating annual rings of growth in timber
b(1)
(2)
: a beverage resembling a milkshake
a protein shake
5
: a wavering, quivering, or alternating motion caused by a blow or shock
6
: trill
7
: a very brief period of time
I'll be there in two shakes
8
shakes plural : one that is exceptional especially in importance, ability, or merit
usually used in the phrase no great shakes
9
: a shingle split from a piece of log usually three or four feet (about one meter) long
10
: deal entry 2 sense 3
a fair shake
Phrases
shake a leg
1
: dance
2
: to hurry up
shake a stick at
: to form a conception of (as by counting or imagining) : conceive
usually used in the phrase more than one can shake a stick at
Choose the Right Synonym for shake

shake, agitate, rock, convulse mean to move up and down or to and fro with some violence.

shake often carries a further implication of a particular purpose.

shake well before using

agitate suggests a violent and prolonged tossing or stirring.

an ocean agitated by storms

rock suggests a swinging or swaying motion resulting from violent impact or upheaval.

the whole city was rocked by the explosion

convulse suggests a violent pulling or wrenching as of a body in a paroxysm.

spectators were convulsed with laughter

Examples of shake in a Sentence

Verb The ground shook during the earthquake. The house shook as the train rumbled by. The earthquake shook the ground. Shake the salad dressing well before using it. I was so nervous that I was shaking like a leaf. The fugitive couldn't shake the police. It's hard to shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something. The news did nothing to shake my belief that things will be okay. Nothing could shake his faith in God. Noun He responded to the question with a shake of his head. Give the dice a shake. He drank too much coffee and got a bad case of the shakes.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Recognizing the commercial impact of country music on his state, Clement launched a public relations campaign to shake off the genre’s previous reputation as hillbilly music and pitch it as a respectable style for modern mid-century consumers. Joseph M. Thompson / Made By History, TIME, 6 June 2024 On Friday, at 10:26 a.m., a magnitude 3.6 earthquake — down from an original estimate of 3.8 — occurred with an epicenter just north of the Ojai Valley, causing weak shaking to be felt from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. Rong-Gong Lin Ii, Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2024
Noun
On the exterior, the home features wood shake roofing / shingles. Bay Area Home Report, The Mercury News, 5 June 2024 Its shakes, which include s’more, shamrock, peanut butter and cinnamon toast, can be made with or without alcohol. Jenna Thompson, Kansas City Star, 29 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for shake 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shake.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Old English sceacan; akin to Old Norse skaka to shake

First Known Use

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shake was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near shake

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shake. Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

shake

1 of 2 verb
shook ˈshu̇k How to pronounce shake (audio) ; shaken ˈshā-kən How to pronounce shake (audio) ; shaking
1
: to move irregularly to and fro : quiver, tremble
shaking with cold
2
: to become unsteady : totter
3
: to cause to move in a usually quick jerky manner
4
: to free oneself from
shake off a cold
5
: to cause to become weaker
shake one's faith
6
: to force out of a place by quick jerky movements
shake dust from a blanket
7
: to clasp (hands) in greeting or as a sign of goodwill or agreement
shakable
ˈshā-kə-bəl
adjective

shake

2 of 2 noun
1
: an act of shaking
2
plural : a condition of trembling (as from chill)
3
: something produced by shaking
especially : milk shake
4
: a very brief period of time
ready in two shakes
5
plural : one that stands out especially in importance, ability, or merit
usually used in the phrase no great shakes
6
: a long shingle
7
: deal entry 3 sense 2
a fair shake

More from Merriam-Webster on shake

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!